It is now our third session on the Feeling of Form and the Feeling of the Whole
When we explore these particular elements of Chekhov Technique I always ask the question first, “What is – (whatever we are exploring)?” and gear all the initial practical exercises towards that. As one of my master teachers, Ted Pugh said in one of the first Chekhov classes I ever took, “Your job is to find out!” For me this is not only for the student but for the teacher too. If I do not keep alive my own feeling of ‘astonishment’ how can I expect the participants to be astonished? As Mala Powers writes (and I paraphrase because I cannot find the quote!) when people say the Chekhov technique is esoteric, it isn’t. It might seem that way but as soon as you try it , it blossoms into something inately practical and experiential.
In week one I asked everyone to bring in a cup. Everyone’s cup was different but when I asked people to tell us about their cup with a feeling of beauty we found something different about each cup which we shared and really experienced. Form suggests both a specific structure and yet also a malleable thing; that a form is not restrictive but it gives depth through a deeper ‘knowing’. In other words the form works for us many different shimmering levels.
So my cup has a shape, a texture, a size, a pattern a history, a purpose. It may awaken memories and connections. It has a FORM. It is so much more than a container, yet it is also simply, a cup. It has its form of ‘being a cup’. How we drink from it tells us whether we are like a bee sipping nectar, taking our coffee quickly as we fly around the kitchen preparing to go to work, or whether we huddle around it, ruminating holding the precious hot liquid as a sustenance and comfort….looking out onto the world. In other words, how that form is employed creates worlds for us right then and there.
When we look at our own bodies, our own forms, they seem specific and limited in their ability to channel our creativity, to play a character. But this is far from the truth when the body and imagination ally together to work through the form of the body. And yet we know that parts of us regrow and change as we age. We are not in charge even of our own form. It is in constant movement.
Suddenly the space and even my own frame seems infinitely malleable. In these classes I have been keen to get people to acknowledge their own form within the form or vessel of their room. It’s specific , and yet through the imagination we can extend, stretch and develop these forms.
And yet – the form provides a structure, as someone said in class, a kind of scaffolding on which to build our character .
If the cup were your character, what would you fill it with?